The electronic chalkboard...
In the lecture room
A touch sensitive whiteboard (such as an Intelliboard), a retroprojection system, or a digitizer tablet with a computer connection, is used in the lecture room. The lecturer uses a plastic pen to write directly on the screen, as is done on a normal chalkboard. A digitizer tablet can also be used to write on the screen. A set of usage examples can be found at Example Scenarios.
|In a class room|
E-chalk is more than a traditional chalkboard because it integrates multimedia elements:
- Pictures can be directly retrieved from the Internet or from the local computer.
- Mathematical functions can be plotted.
- Mathematical expressions can be evaluated on the fly via handwriting recognition.
- Interactive web services (CGI scripts) can be integrated in the lecture.
Live in the Internet
Any lecture or meeting can be transmitted live over the Internet. Only a Java enabled browser is needed for remote viewing. No additional software has to be installed. The participant at home sees the same objects appear on the blackboard as the local participant and hears the lecturer speaking. E-chalk offers the option to transmit a video image of the lecturer.
Lectures are stored automatically during the transmission and can be viewed on the Web in real-time or with a delay. Archived lectures can be played on-demand as conventional videos, fast-forwarding or rewinding the file. Students do not have to copy the board content any more, since E-Chalk also generates a printable version of the board content in PDF.
Architecture of E-Chalk
The E-Chalk server is started on the local computer connected to some pen input device. The server transmits audio, video and the blackboard image over time. On the remote computer, three applets are started, one for each stream. The bandwidth needed for the data streams is not higher than that offered by ISDN with two channels (128kbps). The video stream can be closed to consume less bandwidth. Without video, a regular modem is sufficent (56 Kbps).
|Lecture with Mathematica|
|An E-Chalk lecture as seen in a browser|
- Extended handwriting recognition to cope with any complex formulas.
- Possibility for third party extensions that react on pen gestures.
- Support for the transmission of the lecturer's gestures and mimics.
The main advantages in a nutshell:
- E-Chalk preservs the padagogical benefits of the traditional chalkboard: especially the possibility to show not only results but the train of thoughts.
- E-Chalk improves teaching by enabling the lecturer to use material from the Internet.
- Distance teaching is a by product of class room teaching: No further work is needed to create distance lectures from classroom lectures. This feature makes E-Chalk especially interesting for so called Notebook Universities.